Scotsman must stop pandering to Brian Monteith’s hypocrisy aboot ‘whitabootery’



I’m a bit late getting to this second of Monteith’s appearances as the Scotsman’s NHS Scotland and by association, SNP, critic. Here are his main points that the Scottish Government is ‘being disrespectful to voters when they resort to “whitabootery” (comparing with NHS England) and that there are ‘official statistics and credible anecdotal evidence that demonstrates a growing crisis in Scotland’s NHS.’

There are two things to say about comparing one system with another. First, it’s a very common and, if done properly, fairly objective way of measuring how effective a system is. It’s the method used by the Commonwealth Foundation of New York to compare the US health system with 10 others in 2015. Its findings were used to make recommendations for improvement in the US system and much liked by Tories such as Mrs May and the Hunt. To take another example, the PISA comparative research of educational standards also seems an acceptable form of ‘whitabootery’ to the Scottish Conservatives. See:

‘Ms Davidson has previously warned her party could withdraw its support of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) after schools recorded their worst ever performance in a global study.The latest Programme for International Students Assessments (PISA) found Scottish pupils not only trailing behind their English counterparts but those in former Soviet bloc nations Slovenia and Estonia.’

There are of course problems in PISA but that’s for another place. One more example to make the point, are the GERS figures regularly used to undermine Scotland’s economic case for independence. Here’s Tory Murdo Fraser on them:

‘Scotland’s notional deficit therefore stands at a staggering £13.3bn or 8.3% of GDP. The UK-wide deficit, meanwhile, stands at 2.4%. The gap between the two deficits is the highest it has been since GERS started being compiled in 1998/99’

I know, the GERs figures are almost all based on estimates and of little value but, again, that’s for another place and time.

So, it seems comparisons with England or the UK are just fine when they damage the case for independence but not when we seem to be doing better. Notably, of course, the NHS comparisons, so disliked by Monteith, come from the reliable sources, Nuffield and BBC Scotland (😉) and are not subject to any undermining critique. See, for example:

‘Scotland has a unique system of improving the quality of health care’ says the Nuffield Trust: Looking at the full report and not the Labour/BBC Scotland extracts in July

Putting the A&E figures in perspective: NHS England patients were more than twice as likely to wait over four hours throughout 2017.

By comparison, both PISA and GERS have attracted widespread criticism. See these summaries:

Scotland’s school’s PISA results ‘lean’ toward nothing meaningful. Finland’s success is not real. South Korea and China’s educational programmes amount to child abuse

25 of the 26 GERS income figures are estimates and not the real figures!

The Scottish Sun’s grammatically incorrect but politically correct and helpfully blunt assessment of GERS

Monteith’s other main point is that there are: ‘official statistics and credible anecdotal evidence that demonstrates a growing crisis in Scotland’s NHS.’ Let’s deal with the anecdotal first. His Wikipedia page doesn’t say what degree he has or if has one in the Education section. In the Career bit it reads: Following university Monteith initially worked as a researcher for Thatcherite London-based think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies.’ Is he another of the ‘Murphy school’ who didn’t graduate in anything or pass the Research Methods module? Anyhow, he should still know that an anecdote is an anecdote even if it’s true. You can’t use them to make generalisations, at all! As for the official statistics, he offers these:

‘Conservatives demonstrated that even though the SNP promised to end the practice, more than 10,000 ambulances have been dispatched with one crew member on board in the last four years. Last year, the SNHS sickness rate was 7.6 per cent, a third above the target of five per cent and well beyond the private sector average of 1.9 per cent. Hospital beds continue to decline (down from 21,340 hospital beds in 2016/17 against more than 23,000 in 2012/13) but are not replaced by more social care places for the elderly, as these too have declined (down from 38,465 in 2012/13, to 37,746 in 2016/17).’

I’ve already dealt with his and other misunderstanding of the ambulance and hospital beds stories here:

‘Ambulance-chasers’* BBC Scotland digs up fake news as Scotland’s ambulance services disappoint them by coping well with the winter surge in demand

Scotsman’s reputation in tatters as they parrot Labour report on bed-blocking which is, of course falling

As for the sickness rate in SNHS being higher than in the private sector, well of course it is. They work with sick people. They’re exposed to infected bodies and clothing. They’re exposed to people suffering. I’d like to see Monteith’s attendance record after a year in A&E or a ward for extreme mental health cases. As for the private sector having a lower rate, well of course it has. Leaving aside the point just made, many private sector workers have no union protection and, in some cases, absolutely no rights at all and are thus afraid to go off sick. If he’d like an anecdote, I was served recently in a filling station by a young man who seemed to be suffering from the flu. His colleague told him to go home but he said he couldn’t because he’d been off ill in the previous month!

This is Monteith’s second rant in the Scotsman in seven days. I know he’ll be cheap, but the Scotsman needs to recover more than a little pride in itself.


20 thoughts on “Scotsman must stop pandering to Brian Monteith’s hypocrisy aboot ‘whitabootery’

  1. Bugger (the Panda) January 16, 2018 / 11:37 am

    Brian Monteith be like rentagub.

    Sorry, not a very well elaborated point of view but, axiomatic.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Alasdair Macdonald January 16, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    Another fine piece of rapid rebuttal and of pointing out the poor methodology he is using.

    Comparison has always been a valid way of presenting statistics. Indeed, it is crucial for context.

    Let us hope that Johnstone press is taken over soon, that the editorial team at the Scotsman is changed and it repositions itself politically. (When the news that Alex Salmond was lined up for an executive position, I recall some honcho from the Scottish media cadre ‘warning’ that ‘this will upset the balance of the press in Scotland’. Either this shows an appalling lack of self-awareness and solipsistic sense of entitlement or it shows how easily these hacks slide into lies.l

    Liked by 2 people

  3. johnrobertson834 January 16, 2018 / 2:25 pm

    Thanks, less rapid than I’d hoped. Must admit to having descended into solipsism myself at times. You might all be fictions of my imagination though I can’t imagine imagining Bugger the Panda.


      • johnrobertson834 January 16, 2018 / 4:09 pm

        Think I’ve seen this before. It’s good stuff. Genuinely tickled by it. Are you a lady, really? Tend to think you as a fella. Sexism?

        Oslo, Polar Bears out-breeding the Pandas in Scotland now. Time to bugger a polar bear? Dangerous!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bugger (the Panda) January 16, 2018 / 4:12 pm

        red wine, red blooded, male

        Liked by 1 person

  4. macgilleleabhar January 16, 2018 / 2:34 pm

    Let me explain what the unionists are trying to get across as in the newspaper (?) article above.
    ” We are Proud Scots but we are subservient and must have some one to cling to for support as we are invertebrates and cannot stand alone. We are terrified beyond a mere twitch of our sphincters that the public services or governance of Scotland should be in any way superior to our glorious Master’s in England lest it causes offense and although not being Scottish in word or deed we are cast adrift alone with none to look up to or worse still look down on. Recently the vile blogger Campbell likened us to house slaves but it alright for him being a mere field slave with no hope of patronage or special favour from our masters.
    Can’t you see our dilemma?”


    • johnrobertson834 January 16, 2018 / 4:04 pm

      Sadly true. Thanks son of the male servant (?) or son of the servant from the city of Abhar in Persia (?) My Gaelic not good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • macgilleleabhar January 16, 2018 / 7:33 pm

        Son of the servant of the Book John.Usually pronounced in Gaelic Mac G’ Lawher with a softer h sound almost sounds like lawyer. It’s a Skye name possibly dating back to the Culdee (Céili Dé In Gaelic) monks who were not celibate or Druid but the Dudes of the day before the Church of Rome made a power grab.On the other hand it may stem from people who traveled reading the Bible to the masses or even wrote them but my favourite is that they were tenth century bookmakers but it’s all lost in the mists of time and Talisker. The English version is MacLure for Mac G’ Leabhar but McClure is a south west Scotland /Ulster name that is different but I have no knowledge of it.
        I ‘ll give you 70% for your translation having got two out of three words correct and a small bonus for thinking Persia as Gaelic’s roots are in Sanskrit.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bugger (the Panda) January 16, 2018 / 3:05 pm

    Without you there would be no need for me to comment, Grasshopper.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bugger (the Panda) January 16, 2018 / 3:13 pm

    The Herald Group is part of Newsquest which if you look at their Board, is full of the great and good.

    In turn Newsquest is own by Gannett in the USA who in rurn own a slew of US local newspapers, television stations and USA Today the only pan USA tabloid. Possibly the only source of news outside the continental USA . for most citiens.

    The HQ og Ganett id net door to the CIA HQ in Langley, VA.

    Funny that?


    • johnrobertson834 January 16, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      When I suggested were censoring me, they joked that CIA Langley had told them to do so! Paranoid, moi?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Ludo Thierry January 16, 2018 / 5:35 pm

    Hi John et al. John – you wonder, very reasonably given his track-record, “.. Is he another of the ‘Murphy school’ who didn’t graduate in anything or pass the Research Methods module?” From the Wicki Herriot Watt page I’m guessing he did graduate (I know not in which discipline). Monteith is included in the list of celebrated alumni (see below) and note the way the entry for the late Bernie Grant identifies that he did not complete his degree studies (I confess I had no idea that Bernie Grant had attended Herriot Watt before today). Please note I am making precisely nil judgement regarding student politics at H.W. by bracketing Monteith with another celebrated alumnus – one baron (Mike) Watson (whatever happened to him I wonder?):

    • Bernie Grant, British Labour Party politician, the Member of Parliament for Tottenham from 1987 to 2000; Britain’s first Afro-Caribbean MP (did not graduate)
    • Brian Monteith, former Conservative MSP
    • Lord Mike Watson, Baron Watson of Invergowrie, former MP and MSP

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald January 16, 2018 / 10:23 pm

      Ludo, It might not be the case that Bernie Grant ‘did not finish his degree’, because it was the rule at some Scottish Universities at one time that the graduand had to attend in person to , one yearbe awarded the degree.

      Lord Watson was the ‘curtain raiser’ in the entertainment at the Scottish Parliamentary awards. It is reported that ‘he set the house alight’. He did so well that he was invited to stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Clydebuilt January 16, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    Never trust a man who spends as much time trimming his facial hair as that Richard Cranium. . .

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s